Sophia Efthimiatou speaks to author Luke Burgis about getting to know his readers through Substack and creating steady sales for his book through continued conversation
“Wanting” is definitely going on the wishlist. Audiobook listeners - he narrates it!
Great piece, and lovely to see that Substack is now being seen as an ally to books rather than a competitor. I've found Substack introduces a slowness to reading again - this facilitates a depth of processing that other forms do not promote - they grab attention, you find the latest horror on the bird site circulates around and around your working memory, is updated, replaced by something new, and lost. I've also found that the regular practice of writing a Substack hones your productivity in all sorts of positive ways.
Can you name the last ten tweets you read? Almost certainly not. But a piece like this - it will be read, lingered over, and re-read. Hugely valuable - especially if you have a book coming out.
CoI: I have a book coming out on the 3rd August, and I blurb it each week in my Substack pieces (it's on how conversation, memory, and imagination intersect to create our shared worlds - a 'neurons to nations' journey: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/442354/talking-heads-by-omara-shane/9781847926487).
Two emails in 2 days, both of which have changed my whole thought process about how to better use Substack in my fledgling writing pursuits. Blind enough to no longer be able to read or write by conventional means, I have thus far considered Substack to be a repository to which I could direct friends to read if they found time in their busy schedules. It never occurred to me, until this post, that I could use Substack for an ongoing conversation about the book. I only wrote it to prove I could still do it after I lost my eyesight, but to continue the narrative contained in the book absolutely never crossed my mind. Thank you for this, and keep these emails coming! I may be old, now but I clearly have a lot to learn:-)
It's great to hear first hand experience of how Substack can be such a great tool for promoting books. But I did wonder, how many followers did Luke have on other platforms, or how well-known was he before he launched his Substack newsletter, because his growth seems pretty phenomenal. I'm just wondering if he had a head start, so to speak. If not, that's an even stronger recommendation for using Substack in book PR.
'Substack does seem to be the kind of community where writers want to help other writers. That’s one of the coolest things about it.'
Could not agree more. In fact Luke's very generous reference to me and my work is proof of this mechanism in action. This was a great interview.
This conversation gave me a great idea for how to use my Substack to engage readers with fiction. I am curious, how do you view Substack working for novelists who want to build an audience here? Many people are focused on nonfiction and I think that fictioners feel a little left out.
Those figures are VERY promising. Substack attracts readers/writer who are looking for deeper connection and community. I think we are collectively exhausted from the fast paced, vapid environment that is Instagram/TikTok. It’s just one big giant mall at this point.
Witnessing Substack’s further disruption of the social media/publishing industry is exciting.
Love this so much! I LOVE books! The smell and feel will never die for me. I need them in my hands. I also love the idea of using substack to bounce ideas off your target audience. Beautifully written, Jess.
Luke is a legend. Glad Substack is featuring more emerging writers here. Keep it up!
Hello Luke and Chevanne , thank you for this interview. It has seriously propelled me to have confidence to start. I am writing on this platform in a way like you describe, with a. Sense of freedom. I am not publishing it yet. But I hope to do so soon.
As someone whose book on miscarriage came out this year, the line that authors must 'perform six-second choreographies to promote their grief memoirs' (!) really struck a chord. Thank you for this interesting conversation.
I started my Substack in September and I can't say I'm unhappy with how it's going. I could surely be happi-ER, but things take time. This was a good post for me to read today. It opened my eyes to various paths I can still explore. Maybe I can stop complaining about a lack of feedback and just start adding things in addition to my weekly Sonnet/Essay. Thanks.
I love the theme of Wanting. We've probably all been betrayed by the Romantic Lie. Reminds me of Laura Kipnis book *Against Love* which is funny, and true.
Great piece, and it speaks really well to the promise of writing and publishing here, which is def part of the reason why I'm serializing as a proceed with my memoir:
AN ORDINARY DISASTER
A book-length memoir of a man thrashing against— and then learning to live with the fact that we are all alone, serialized right here on Substack:
You gave a very interesting statistic, thank you for sharing that information. 26% of readers bought the book, which is a serious figure. Of course, I would like to know how many users there were (an approximate figure). Indeed, Substack is much more author-friendly than other platforms, which makes me very happy.
Great read. Thank you.
Very excited to learn more! Engaging readers with the (sometimes guilty) goal of driving demand is such a murky process. These articles help a lot! So far my mom has stayed very engaged but very recently there are a few organic ones too, because of articles like this I’ve read on Substack 🎉